Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

I saw the US version of this a couple of years ago and thought it was decent.  Having now watched the earlier Swedish effort, I'm forced to mark the American film down a good few notches.  This is simply better on every front.

The problem with the English-language film is the same as the problem with the English-language title of the book on which both movies are based: it diminishes the lead female character.  She's a grown woman, not a "girl", damn it.  The Swedish title, should you be curious, is "Men Who Hate Women".  Presumably that was felt too confronting to be the English-language title.

In the Swedish movie Lisbeth Salander is allowed to be much more proactive and capable than in the US effort.  Even the sub-plot where she is sexually assaulted is structured in such a way to preserve as much of her agency as possible.

That sub-plot, by the by, is one of two reasons why this film only gets a qualified recommendation.  It is pretty confronting stuff.  The second reason is that this is a near 2.5 hour film in a foreign language, and a lot of people seem to have an issue with reading subtitles (there's no dubbed option on my disc, though perhaps there are on other editions).

For those who don't know, the plot involves a burnt out journalist who gets hired to investigate a 40-year old murder.  He comes to be aided in this by a brilliant but troubled young researcher (the aforementioned Lisbeth) as the two of them unravel a mystery far deeper and broader than they could ever have expected.  Said mystery hangs together pretty well, too.

A satisfying film all around.  I shall be interested to see how the two sequels hold up, when I get to hem.

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